Active 94 years old Charles E. (Chuck) Williams, is the founder of the Williams-Sonoma company and author and editor of dozens of books on the subject of cooking. He was born in Florida in 1915 and learned to cook from his maternal grandmother, who had owned a restaurant in Lima, Ohio. After several endeavors in life, it was on a two-week vacation trip to Paris in 1953 that he got the idea for an upscale kitchenware store and changed the way americans cook forever. Visit the website at www.williams-sonoma.com
"I couldn't get over seeing so many great things for cooking, the heavy pots and pans, white porcelain ovenware, country earthenware, great tools and professional knives," Williams said in a recent telephone interview from his office in San Francisco. "Here, it was different. For the home cook, there were thin pans in not a lot of sizes, and tools were on the cheap side. In those days, people bought kitchenwares in hardware and department stores." - Chuck Williams.
In 1956, he combined his last name with the name of the rural town where opened the hardware store and called the new venture Williams-Sonoma. Having previous experience in merchandising he tastefully organized the shelves making each product stand by itself. Filled them with copper sauté pans, huge stockpots, high-quality vegetable peelers, Sabatier knives and French kitchen towels.
Walk with Chuck through the story behind Williams-Sonoma in the following video
Learn how traditional copper cookware is made in France in the video (bottom left of linked page) http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/c051/?pkey=csaucepans-sauciers%7Cckwscespn
Young Chuck today operates a test kitchen at Williams-Sonoma corporate headquarters in San Francisco, where recipes are tested for the company's catalogs and cookbooks. He is an editor or contributor to nearly every cookbook that Williams-Sonoma releases, including the large multi-volume Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library set, co-published by Time-Life Books. The series includes over 40 volumes and has sold nearly 10 million copies. Williams was the sole author of another Time-Life/Williams Sonoma series, Simple Cooking, which comprised Simple American Cooking, Simple French Cooking, and Simple Italian Cooking as well as a "best of" collection with selections from all three. All told, Williams has been involved with the production of more than 100 cookbooks.
In addition to his involvement with The Culinary Institute of America, Williams has served on the Board of the American Institute of Food & Wine and has contributed to events offered by the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP). He was named as the "Who’s Who of Food & Beverage" in 1994 by the James Beard Foundation, and was given the Foundation’s highest recognition in 1995 — "The Lifetime Achievement Award."